Barbara’s Picks, Jun. 2012, Pt. 3: From Richard Ford to David Maraniss on Obama

Ford, Richard. Canada. Ecco: HarperCollins. Jun. 2012. 432p. ISBN 9780061692048 $26.99; eISBN 9780062096807. lrg. prnt. LITERARY
Fifteen-year-old Dell Parsons feels pretty much abandoned; not only are his parents jailed for robbing a bank but his twin sister is humiliated enough to have run away. He’s rescued by a family friend, who sends him across the border from Montana to Canada, where he’s taken in by a charismatic fellow American who turns out to have a dark and dangerous side. In the short run, however, Dell takes advantage of Saskatchewan’s wide open spaces to remake himself. Switching publishers, the ever beautifully apt Ford gets a 200,000-copy first printing and a grand tour that includes Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Oxford/Jackson (MS), Portland (ME), Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Joinson, Suzanne. A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar. Bloomsbury USA, dist. by Macmillan. Jun. 2012. 9781608198115. $26. LITERARY
Kashgar: an ancient city along the Silk Road, now in western China, and the destiny of missionaries Evangeline (Eva) and sister Lizzie in 1923. Lizzie is imbued, while Eva simply wants to get away from home and has cleverly contracted to write about her experiences. Meanwhile, in contemporary London, a young woman named Frieda contends with a Yemeni refuge she’s found sleeping outside her door and news that she’s inherited the contents of a flat whose occupant she doesn’t know. So far, this looks charming and dusky and imbued with a wonderful sense of history and place. Aside from first novelist, Joinson has two amazing-sounding jobs: she works in the literature department of the British Council, specializing in the Middle East, North Africa, and China, and she is writer in residence at the UK’s Shoreham Airport. That alone makes this book sound promising, but let us not forget that Bloomsbury is the publisher that brought you this year’s National Book Award winner, Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones.

Pratchett, Terry & Stephen Baxter. The Long Earth. Harper: HarperCollins. Jun. 2012. 400p. ISBN 9780062067753. $25.99; eISBN 9780062067760. SF
Big news: Discworld master Pratchett is here creating a new world for the first time in three decades, a series of parallel earths called the Long Earth. World-class misanthrope Larry Lynsey has relocated to the Long Earth’s farthest reaches; he’s the only person around for ten planets. Unfortunately, he’s got visitors‚ two lost souls who took a wrong turn a few stars back‚ and Larry is going to have to get rid of them. Pratchett keeps going strong‚ last October’s Snuff debuted at No. 3 on the New York Times best sellers list, his highest spot there ever‚ and there’s a 75,000-copy first printing. Essential wherever sf is read.

Brinkley, Douglas. Cronkite. Harper: HarperCollins. Jun. 2012. 752p. ISBN 9780061374265. $34.99; eISBN 9780062196637. lrg. prnt. BIOGRAPHY
We all think we know Walter Cronkite, consummate journalist and the most trusted man in America, as he was often called. But, having dug into the just opened Cronkite Archive at the University of Texas at Austin and interviewed over 200 people, from Morley Safer to Katie Couric, Brinkley should tell us much more. This one’s big; with a one-day laydown on 5/29, a 250,000-copy first printing, and a seven-city tour to Austin, Boston, Dallas, Houston, New York, Philadelphia ,and Washington, DC.

Maraniss, David. Barack Obama: The Story. S. & S. Jun. 2012. 608p. ISBN 9781439160404. $32.50. BIOGRAPHY
So we’ve read a lot about President Obama lately‚ David Remnick’s The Bridge came out just last year. But Maraniss, the Pulitzer Prize‚ winning associate editor of the Washington Post and author of books on subjects ranging from Bill Clinton to the 1960 Rome Olympics, is a force to be reckoned with. Maraniss examines not simply what Obama has accomplished but the forces that have shaped him, going back generations. Lots of interviews, including with the President himself. Expect a big boom.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.